Pope Francis has said that the Roman Catholic Church owes an apology to homosexuals and other marginalised sections of society, reported Reuters. "I think that the Church should not only apologise...to a gay person whom it offended, but it must also apologise to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by [being forced to] work. It must apologise for having blessed so many weapons," the pontiff said on his way to Rome from Armenia on Sunday.

According to him, the Church teaches followers that homosexuals "should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally." Although he did not explain what he meant by weapons being blessed by the Church, the 79-year-old said, "The questions is: if a person who has that condition, who has good will and who looks for god, who are we to judge?"

Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi later clarified the Pope's statement and said that by "condition", he meant "a person in that situation" and not a medical condition per say. The word "condition" is also used for "situation" in the Italian language, he added. "We Christians have to apologise for so many things, not just for this [treatment of gays], but we must ask for forgiveness, not just apologise," Father Lombardi said.